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Thursday, June 13, 2024 — Houston, TX

Jackson's career coming to a close

By Ryan Glassman     3/7/13 6:00pm

In what has been a frustrating season for Rice University men's basketball team players, staff and supporters alike, an optimistic trend is quickly emerging in the Owls' backcourt.

With a rugged conference season coming to an end, Rice (5-23, 1-13) went 0-3 in competition with the student body away on spring break. After an 89-64 defeat against Tulane University, the Owls cut a 16-point deficit at Southern Methodist University down to six points in the closing minutes but could not finish the comeback and lost 67-55. A loss at Tudor Fieldhouse to the University of Texas, El Paso Miners last Saturday marked the eighth defeat in a row for Rice, the team's longest losing streak since the 2009-10 season.

But in spite of the team's disappointing results, there has been a clear passing of the torch at the lead guard position. Tamir Jackson will celebrate his Senior Day tomorrow at 7 p.m. at Tudor Fieldhouse, leading up to his graduation, and freshman guard Max Guercy has recently proved he is up to the task of replacing some of the point production that will be lost with Jackson's departure. 

A product of the greater Los Angeles area, Guercy has recently taken over as the team's second leading scorer behind Jackson at 10.2 points per game. He also leads the team in assists and steals, and he plays more minutes than any other player on the squad besides Jackson and sophomore guard Julian DeBose. In the three games over spring break, Guercy averaged 15.3 points, four rebounds, three assists and nearly four steals per game, continuing to emerge as one of the more well-rounded guards in the conference.

But those around the Rice program are not the only ones taking note of Guercy's steady improvement over the course of the season. This past week, Guercy was recognized as the Conference USA Freshman of the Week, an honor he has now received five times this season. The rookie point guard's increase in production down the stretch certainly tabs him as one of the front-runners to land the league's Freshman of the Year award, an honor a Rice player has not received since the school joined the C-USA.

While Jackson's recent play has improved and he has moved into fifth in the league this season in scoring, the hot streak for Jackson's backcourt mate Guercy provides hope for the coming season with Jackson set to graduate in May. Guercy, entering Wednesday's game at the University of Houston, is averaging 2.5 assists and 1.5 steals alongside his 10.2 points per game as a freshman. During his freshman year in 2009-10, Jackson finished the season averaging 10.8 points, 3.1 assists and 1.7 steals per game, slightly more impressive yet still comparable to Guercy. Four years later, Jackson is set to leave the program ranked within the top six players in program history in each of these three categories. Guercy has a long way to go to reach such metrics, but in an otherwise down season for the Owls, the freshman point guard has provided reason to look forward to the future.

Come out early to Tudor Fieldhouse tomorrow night, as Rice will honor esteemed senior guard Tamir Jackson during his final home game as an Owl. Tipoff is at 7 p.m., when the Owls will take on Tulsa University. Rice will then take on the No. 6 seed in the first round of the C-USA Tournament Wednesday in Tulsa, Okla.

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